Outstanding Alumnus-Emerging Leader 2011
Walter Crawford: A Strategy for Success
(As appeared in the Fall 2011 Chronicle)
He walks the halls and passes in between buildings briskly, offering a wide grin and greetings to passersby while glancing up and down from his smartphone. Usually he’s in a jacket or shirt and tie, presenting the image of a young professional—important and busy. Step closer, and you’ll find that Walter Crawford is a 20-year-old student en route to his next class.
Crawford, a Georgia Perimeter College alumnus transferring to the University of Georgia, believes you can tell where a person is going to be five years from now based on the books he reads and the company he keeps. If true, Crawford could be headed to a Fortune 500 executive suite.
His epiphany occurred in high school. Crawford attended private school until ninth grade, when he switched to the public system. After two years of seeing his peers fail to make a difference in society, he decided to make drastic changes to ensure his future.
“I made a lot of changes,” says Crawford. “I started to change the base of people I
spent my time with, meaning my mentors, advisors and friends.”
He started wearing a shirt and tie a few days a week. By the time he was a senior, he
was wearing a suit almost every day. Crawford, who is from the Stone Mountain area, chose Georgia Perimeter because it was an affordable fit where he could strengthen his math and science grades and prepare for his professional career. He also could make a meaningful
impact in the community, he says.
“During my whole time at Perimeter, my goal was to not only succeed academically. I wanted to see an added value to the community and an added value to Georgia Perimeter College.” Crawford says.
Crawford maintained his career look while at GPC.
“I wanted to establish a brand for myself so that when people see me, instantly they’re going to think professional,” he says.
“Because I dress like this, people think I’m smart. People think I can get things done. I started to see that while I was in school, a lot of opportunities came to me that a lot of other students didn’t get,” Crawford says.
While at GPC, Crawford contributed to The Collegian student newspaper, served as a Presidential Ambassador, worked with administrators on college projects and started a peer mentoring program called Stratea. He placed in the top 10 of more than 1,200 competitors at a Delta Epsilon Chi Association (DECA) national competition, with an entry based on human resource case studies he conducted. He also received the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award for Emerging Leaders.
This fall, Crawford, who began attending GPC in 2009, moves to the University of
Georgia, where he will switch his focus from human resources to operations management. He also plans to get involved with a campus group, secure an internship with Coca-Cola and start a life skills coaching program with a local high school.
His passion for people, his discipline and a focus on “setting a new standard for the
future” have helped guide him thus far.
“You have to have discipline,” Crawford says. “Part of that discipline is saying no to certain things so that you can say yes to a few things. It can be setting your life in order for your most strategic objectives.”